Anja Ringgren Loven gives water to Hope, 2, after finding the emaciated boy wandering the streets in Nigeria Anja Ringgren Lovén/Facebook

“Nature or Water, exploring how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century“ is the theme of this year‘s World Water Day which is on 22 March.

The scientific discipline of biomimicry employs the same approach.

“Every so often an idea comes around that is a game changer. After we hear it and understand it, we never see the world quite the same ever again. Biomimicry is such an idea,“ says Claire Janisch, the founder of BiomimicrySA.

“It shows us that genius solutions to our challenges already exist. Right outside, in nature. Tested over eons.”

Claire is a keynote speaker at African Utility Week, taking place from 15-17 May in Cape Town, with a presentation entitled: Biomimicry: Learn from and emulate nature’s genius to create more sustainable designs.

She explains: “When you realise that the simple act of learning from and emulating nature’s time tested genius is so profoundly impactful, it’s one of the most inspiring approaches to Africa’s big challenges. I will share case studies and core principles to illustrate this.”

“Our vision is that the designers of our world – and particularly the designers of our infrastructure – look to natural systems as model, measure and mentor to design abundant and resilient cities that function like natural ecosystems.“

African Utility Week will also focus strongly on water challenges on the continent, including investment needed in water solutions by the public and private sectors to enable universal access, water security and resilient societies.

The water conference will furthermore showcase how partnerships, financial models and latest technological advances can make the greatest impact in meeting Africa’s water demand.

“What is happening in Cape Town could happen anywhere,” says water expert Paul Yillia about the current water shortage in the Mother City.

A guest research scholar (Water Programme) at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and formerly part of the Global Facilitation Team at Sustainable Energy for ALL (SEforALL) focusing on the Water-Energy-Food Nexus, Paul returns as chairman of the water conference track at African Utility Week.

He explains: “As populations in cities grow and economic activities increase, the demand for water will continue to increase. If we now factor in climate change and extreme weather events such as prolonged heat waves and droughts, all of this will put additional pressure on water availability both on the supply and demand side. This is not unique to Cape Town. Utilities worldwide should take the threats posed by climate change much more seriously and focus additional resources on adaptation measures to cope with water security challenges that will be exacerbated by climate change.”